"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wish Book

ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
Sears Wish Book 2007 ~ Good Old Days meet New Age

Talk about custom and ceremony, and annual tradition! I don't remember my family referring to it as the "Wish Book," but I well recall the excitement of marking all of our favorite pages in the Sears Christmas Catalog every year. We were not alone!

On one holiday blog after another, the old catalogs feature as an unforgettable childhood memory. Take a look at this great site or this one for a glimpse of vintage wish books from decades gone by. How poignantly Cris Williamson captures the nostalgia in her truly unique Christmas song:

Wish - Book
When the fire danger was low
Off we'd go to Ohio
Through the cold December days
In the old black Chevrolet.

The three of us kids would sit in the back
With the wish - book catalogue on our laps
We'd dream of all the things there'd be
Underneath the Christmas tree.

And we'd say
"What'll we get when the great day's here?"
And Mama'd make the wishing - book appear
And we dreamed of life for all it was worth
And I knew the meaning of peace on earth.

As Daddy drove the car through
the middle of the night
I'd be reading by the glow of the radio light
Pointing to the pictures one - by - one
Daddy said we'd have it all when the money comes.

When my sister and brother were asleep
I'd crawl over in the front seat
And I'd sit up with Mom and Dad
And talk about all the things we'd have.

And we'd say
"What'll we get when the great day's here?"
And Mama'd make the wishing - book appear
And we dreamed of life for all it was worth
And I knew the meaning of peace on earth.

On the day that Christmas came
I found an envelope with my name
Like promises of days to be
The wish - book pictures spilled in front of me.

And, oh I tried not to feel too sad
As I read the note from Mom and Dad
That said, "Merry Christmas, little one.
This is just until the money comes."


words by Cris Williamson
music by Tret Fure and Cris Williamson
found on the album Snow Angel

I was such a lucky little kid; the Christmas that I was nine years old, I wished for an Italian Boy Doll (2nd one down on the right, wearing pale blue) and my wish came true!

Page 619 of the Sears Christmas Catalog, 1966

Christmas Day, 1966

As I've said before (on my previous post: "Boy Doll"), "my sister and I were so proud of our new dolls! If any of you ever come to visit and stay overnight, you will find Boy Doll, in pristine condition, sitting on the guest bed. I wanted this doll like crazy, but I never played with him very much and never gave him a name other than "Boy Doll." [Don't ask me why, but we had a way back then of describing our toys rather than actually naming them, as with my sister Diane's Floppy Doll.]

"Little did I know that one day a couple of decades later I would have two little blond baby boys who looked just like my Boy Doll! Or . . . wait! . . . perhaps I did know but just didn't know that I knew! Maybe Boy Doll was sent to me as an innocent little Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come!"

Fall 1990 ~ Baby Ben, propped up beside Boy Doll

Fall 1993 ~ Baby Sam, three years later

For a little Baby Boomer such as I, the Christmas Season and the Catalog Season were one and the same. But catalogs did appear at other times of year (e.g. "Back to School") and Wish Books could be for other special occasions as well (Easter dresses, prom dresses, wedding dresses). My talented cousin Robert Lindsey Nassif describes just such a special occasion in his winsome tribute to wishing and dreaming and shopping from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. "Dreams are all I've got," croons the narrator; yet it's a dream that just might come true! Don't forget, in real life, Lady Bird Johnson's wedding ring really did come from Sears and Roebuck!

Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
Go on, walk away.
I'm a waste of time
Can't take me to a dimestore,
'cause I haven't got a dime.

Dreams are all I got
that's not in short supply.
But, if I printed money,
then I know just what I'd buy:

That Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
on page one hundred three.
Gold electro - plated,
with a lifetime guarantee.

That Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
to flash before your eyes.
One in just your size.

What I can't afford,
that's what you should have.
Like, an "Acme Wonder Washer,"
or "Bonjour Parisian Salve."

Patent Leather shoes,
or a Patent - Pending Sieve,
and there's something with engraving
I'd give anything to give:

That Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
on page one hundred three.
Gold electro - plated,
with a lifetime guarantee.

That Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
delivered C.O.D.
Just for you, from me.

See, as long as I know
nothing's gonna come true,
guess I might as well go
for the top a the line --
for a de - luxe editon,
like you,
and that

Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
on page one hundred three.
Gold electro - plated,
with a lifetime guarantee.

A fella needs a dream to dream,
especially if he's poor.
That's the thing
that catalogues
and pretty girls
are for.


words and music by Robert Lindsey Nassif

60th Anniversary Issue from 2012

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, January 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com


Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hopefully

Posting early this week
in honor of Emily Dickinson's Birthday
Born this day in 1830
[died May 15, 1886]

A HOUSE WHERE ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
Photo of Dickinson's House by Stan Lichens


"Eden is that old - fashioned House
We dwell in every day
Without suspecting our abode
Until we drive away.
How fair, on looking back, the Day
We sauntered from the door,
Unconscious our returning
Discover it no more."

~ Emily Dickinson ~


****************

Does it bring you joy to indulge in an innocent little English usage error every occasionally (like that)? It does me! One of my favorites is the word hopefully. The handbooks will advise you that it means "with hope," as in, "I dropped my bike off hopefully" or "Hopefully, I entered the contest."

It does not mean "I hope," as in, "Hopefully I will win" or "Hopefully my bike can be fixed" (not to mention get rid of that passive verb). Even so, I like using it both ways, either way, ambiguously, whenever I feel like. Hopefully, you will agree with me when I say that we all need all the hope we can get!

What are you hoping for? What are the desires of your heart?

Do you get what you're hoping for
When you look behind you there's no open door
What are you hoping for?
Do you know?
--song by M. Masser / G. Goffin;
--sung by Diana Ross (and a few others)

I once came across a little proverb, so easy to remember, I didn't even have to write it down: "Want something long enough and you don't." It took me awhile to puzzle out the meaning. Once it starts happening, however, you grow to understand. It's not that you actively give up wanting or deliberately relinquish the object of your desire; it's just that one day you realize, hey I don't want that anymore, and in fact haven't wanted it for quite some time.

It's not so bad to stop wanting things you can't have. But it's also good to hope for what you might have. And the wisdom to know the difference. As Emily Dickinson says in one of her best loved poems:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all . . .

This stanza always reminds me of the Psalm: "Delight yourself in the Goodness of God and you will be given the Desires of Your Heart" (37:4). The trick, of course, is knowing what it is that you desire, what you're hoping for.

A few years ago in the Notre Dame Magazine, Elizabeth Austin told the story of a young friend who wanted to complete the last leg of an around-the-world journey. Asking his father's advice, he received this ambiguous reply: "I think it's a ridiculous idea . . . If it's just a whim forget about it. The only reason to do something like that is if it's your heart's desire. And if it's your heart's desire, then you have to do it."

The son was baffled: "What's that supposed to mean, my heart's desire?" Austin concludes her narrative with yet another conundrum: Discovering our heart's desire "must be, in the end, our heart's desire" (NDM, Winter 1997 - 98, p 79).

From some angles, Emily Dickinson's sequestered life appears so unruffled, but what about her heart's desire? What message did she discern when listening so carefully to that song without words, the one that never stopped?

Emily Dickinson
"We think of hidden in a white dress
among the folded linens and sachets
of well-kept cupboards, or just out of sight
sending jellies and notes with no address
to all the wondering Amherst neighbors.
Eccentric as New England weather
the stiff wind of her mind, stinging or gentle,
blew two half imagined lovers off.
Yet legend won't explain the sheer sanity
of vision, the serious mischief
of language, the economy of pain."


poem by Linda Pastan, (U.S. Poet, b. 1932)

In her poem, "Lists," Pastan says:

"I made a list of things I have
to remember and a list
of things I want to forget,
but I see they are the same list."

I wonder if it's ever the case that the same is also true of what we're hoping for?

Looking at it a different way, author Susan Jeffers recommends not a "Hoping Life" but a "Wondering Life": " . . . with the magic of wondering, fear of the uncertain is replaced by curiosity . . . pressure about the future is relieved when we live in a wondering world" (Embracing Uncertainty, 20 - 21).

E.g., not I HOPE you are reading my blog,
but I WONDER if you are reading my blog.

For more on Emily Dickinson, see
"Emily From Different Angles
on Kitti's Book List




Young Girl Reading
by French artist
Jean-Honoré Fragonard
1732 - 1806






SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, December 28th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com


Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com